Summary: A look at Grace demonstrated in the lives of Joseph, Moses, David and Peter
It seemed to make perfect sense: If the “Grace of God” was a good thing, and if the “Grace of God” was demonstrated through the forgiveness of sin, then the more we sinned than the more the Grace of God would be demonstrated. It seems to make perfect sense but it didn’t. It was an absurd argument that Paul addresses in the first verse of the scripture that was read earlier.
Paul had spent the previous four verses talking about God’s Wonderful Grace and then he seems to anticipate the response from some folks in the church because he asks the question in Romans 6:1 Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace?
This seemed to be an ongoing discussion in the church at Rome because Paul had addressed it earlier in Romans 3:7-8 “But,” someone might still argue, “how can God condemn me as a sinner if my dishonesty highlights his truthfulness and brings him more glory?” And some people even slander us by claiming that we say, “The more we sin, the better it is!” Those who say such things deserve to be condemned.
It is a twisted logic that leads us to the rationale that our sinful behaviour actually becomes a public service by introducing more of God’s grace into the world. And so Paul asks the question: Romans 6:1 Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? And then he answers it in the very next verse by stating Romans 6:2 Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?
This type of argument and debate was common in the era that Paul was writing and was referred in Latin as: Reductio ad Absurdum And the definition of that term is: The process of refuting an argument on the grounds that absurd – and patently untenable consequences would ensue from accepting the item at issue. In other words reducing it to the absurd.
For example, sometimes someone will say something that just doesn’t make sense or is unlikely to happen. “If I won the lottery, all my money problems would be over.” And I will respond one of two ways, both of which fall into the class of Reductio ad Absurdum. So I will either say “And if wishes were horses beggars would ride.” Or I will respond “And if my grandmother had wheels she’d be a wagon.”
So taking it to the extreme, if we do continue to sin it is an opportunity for God to demonstrate his grace over and over again, however we are told that God hates sin and the ultimate consequence of sin is spiritual death and so while it provides the opportunity for grace it ultimately leads to our destruction.
But what is this grace of which Paul speaks and which others would use as a licence to continue in their sinful behaviour? Well we have defined it before as God’s unmerited love. That is love that we don’t deserve and that we can’t earn. It is spelled out in Ephesians 2:8-9 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
You’ve heard me define it time and time again by saying Justice is getting what we deserve, Mercy is getting less than we deserve and Grace is getting something that we don’t deserve. For example if a certain cleric was stopped by the local constabulary for speeding in their little red car, remember this is just an example, justice would be getting a speeding ticket for doing 73 in a 50. However if the office said that instead of issuing him a speeding ticket he would simply issue him a ticket for failing to obey a traffic sign which would mean the fine would be over a hundred dollars less and there would be no loss of points and the imaginary cleric would not lose his licence for a week, that would be mercy. However if the officer had of said, “Hey don’t worry about it and I’m on my way to Tim Horton’s, follow me and I’ll buy you a coffee” That would have been Grace. In the story the fictional cleric would have been shown mercy.
For those who like numbers in the New Living Translation the word Grace is used 88 times in bible, only 5 times in the Old Testament and 83 times in the New Testament. Of the 83 times the word grace is used in the New Testament 13 of those instances are in the book of Romans. And the word Grace is not used in any of the four Gospels.